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Letters from Downunder

Making America great again?

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

Humanity cannot for long dispense with greatness. Francois Guizot, 1832

(8/2016) It is incredible that anyone could come up with the slogan ĎMaking America Great Againí and expect to be believed, because for all its faults the United States of America has never ceased to be a great nation. That it is so different to every other country has always been both the attraction and the puzzle for the rest of the world, but no other country was founded on such abundant natural resources, and no other country has ever been the magnet for settlers that yours has been.

The foundations of your greatness were laid by those settlers, making it the magnet for other Europeans whose lives were tawdry at best by comparison. That genocide was a shameful by-product is to remind us that no conquest, colonisation or infiltration is accomplished with a high regard for the life and welfare of those there before, which is not to say we should not care about it. The bounty the settlers found produced a nation that was more than happy to stay where it was, to bask in whatever life and adventures they found themselves in, and to look quizzically at other lands where the inhabitants wanted to go somewhere else. The culture of welcoming strangers from all parts of the globe turned out to be the most powerful image of freedom the world has ever known and the powerhouse of the labour that transformed the land.

Thatís not to say Americans have been inward looking, but why seek for something out there when you donít need to? When the bounty of the land, an enormous heavy industry and all it spawns and a huge diversity in production is developed, the needs and wants of a rapidly growing nation are more than met, new markets are developed and exports skyrocket. The greatest trading nation the world has ever seen is born and an explosion of culture, technology, learning and invention ensues. When such largesse becomes the norm and success becomes the goal, competition produces skills and practices unique to the nation; the most telling of these was the free market philosophy that soon took on a life of its own, transforming commerce and banking.

This overwhelming success produced such power that the abandonment of most external controls took place, which soon brought home the dangers of this practice: in self-regulation the self always comes first. The fruits of this are now being seen in the disenchantment and anger now ripping through the land. It also led to the current phenomenon of globalisation and free trade deals which, while looking good on paper, not only stripped the assets of other nations, making them jaundiced about the con, it has led to a stagnation or falling wage for the middle class (the lower class didnít have as far to go), a severe distortion in the distribution of wealth (3% of the nation now have 90% of it) and has led to the revolt of those made poorer, those deprived of health care, pensions, essential services, the same people who watched in disgust the cavorting of their representatives at the trough as they fight each other for the scraps and refuse to reach a workable middle ground.

Today it is obvious that not all the wonderful developments in communication and technology are as useful or safe as they once were. Automated processing leads to the inability to effectively criticize mistakes and failure, encourages the spread of mediocrity, and the subsequent laziness of mind replaces critical thinking at too many points. The bailouts of major industry and banking were among the first to be seduced by this, and regulators had no option but to fund the consequences Ė at the expense of long term stability and growth. It also showed the electorate that the heads of such institutions would not be held responsible for the results of their gambling and unreal expectations, and have fuelled revulsion and distrust of not just those establishments, but government itself.

The cold hard fact is that neither the heads of corporations or government are as clever as they think they are. They rely on their ability to recognise trends and world developments, to take advantage of both government and private intelligence, and take actions to maximize profit for themselves and their shareholders. Free enterprise has lost its boundaries, and far more importantly, has lost its moral and ethical responsibility to the individual and the community.

Thatís the downside, but the upside should never be dismissed. The innovative nature of American society has never been stronger; the will to do the right thing, to curb excesses, to laugh out of court the ludicrous rantings of people like Mr. Trump, to empower communities, and look after their neighbour has not diminished.

So government is on the wrong track? The same can be said for nearly all countries around the world Ė Canada, New Zealand and Kiribati may be exceptions Ė but the strength of our two nations is our instinctive desire to improve the lives of both our neighbours and ourselves as much as we can. It derives from our heritage, was fostered by our settlers, and not all the madmen in the world will quench it. Thatís not to say the future will be easy for anyone, but the me generation will be in the cold without our care, the fleshpot adherents will stew, to put it politely, in their own juices.

Greatness is not created by selfishness, but by the vision of those who see the interconnectedness of communities and countries. America is already great; it has never stopped being great. How could it be made great again?


Melbourne, Australia

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker